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Year A, Palm Sunday, 2017 – I Love a Parade!

April 4, 2017 / Molly Douthett / Lent, Palm Sunday

Welcome back! Today, we are exploring the two solitary texts for Palm Sunday, Year A. No matter the year in the cycle, the Old Testament selection is Psalm 118. Year A selects the Palm Sunday processional story from Matthew 21. It is truly difficult to read the Psalm in its historical context; it has been fairly well Christianized by its partnership with Gospel readings on Palm Sunday. I don’t think that is necessarily the fault of overly zealous Christian interpreters, per se. Rather, I think it is also the careful and deliberate selection of both the Gospel writers who catalogued so many parallels to this psalm as they retold the story, and of Jesus himself who participated in re-writing the symbols of his people with this event. We will separate them for the purpose of using each as its own reading, but since this is the day when we celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, we can’t help but blend the two, just like he and the authors of the Gospel did.

This week’s texts are:  

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 [01:59]

We start off in EYE Smart with verse 22 where the psalmist states that the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. David got to thinking about how this rejection has played out in the entertainment industry when movies that couldn’t find a home in a studio eventually went on to become massive hits. He also found some unexpected recipients of ticker tape parades. For BODY Smart, we suggest actually getting up and acting out this procession! Psalms almost always lend themselves to MUSIC Smart. They are poetic in nature, many are the lyrics to ancient music, and even those that witness to the power of God’s timely salvation, like this Psalm, have rhythm. Going back to verse 22 and timely reversals of desperate situations, we have some links to movies for PEOPLE Smart illustrations. And for SELF Smart, we have a couple questions about times when you may have experienced a timely save.


Matthew 21:1-11 [14:35]

The story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem is so very familiar it is difficult to hear how very upsetting the original event must have been for those who witnessed it and heard about it later. In WORD Smart, we can catch a glimpse of how unsettling this was by the Greek word used in verse ten. It can be translated as both “shaken” and “turmoil”. Our English word “seismic” comes from it. The passage is full of Jewish symbolism that we may not quite grasp if we do not understand the context. We take some time in MATH Smart to make the case that context for familiar passages is very important. In BODY Smart, we once again urge you to get people on their feet and act this out! Donkeys and tree branches are rich symbols in NATURE Smart. We have tended to attach our own context of parades and processions onto this ride into Jerusalem, so I have a radical idea for PEOPLE Smart that will pull everyone out of their safety zones. And for SELF Smart, we have some questions.


Image Credit: Copyright: kebox / 123RF Stock Photo. Used by permission.

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